There’re two PSA’s in Canada I remember growing up with, with the utmost fondness.
The first one is ‘Don’t You Put It In Your Mouth’, the words to which every 20-something Canadian child should know the chorus to. “You could get sick (ick!) – real quick! (ICK!) – real sick, real ICK!”
The second is the famous to Canada ‘North American House Hippo’, a PSA that came out in the 90s to help children realize that false advertising was something that happened, and to help them understand that you couldn’t believe everything you saw on television, no matter how real it looked.
(I’m still really sad that the House Hippo actually isn’t a real thing)
What’s this got to do with personal finance?
Don’t believe everything you hear or see, no matter how real it looks.
The mentality of the Joneses is prevalent in our culture. But just because someone has a fancy, new car, doesn’t mean they actually have a fancy, new car. According to CBC, in December 2016, “average Canadian now owes $22,081 in consumer debt, a figure that doesn’t include any mortgages” (check out the article here). I’m of the firm belief that a credit card is like a debit card – you pay it off each month in full, or you shouldn’t be using it.
The most interesting thing about this article, is that people without debt, and people paying down their debt, are continuing to do just that. The people who have debt are increasing the amount of debt they have by enough to change the whole bell curve. Which means that there’s a lot of people out there who can’t actually afford the lifestyle they have, they just look like they can.
Beware of those people. It’s not sustainable, and in my opinion, it’s not desirable.
To be fair though, there is ‘good’ debt. But the figures in that article didn’t include mortgages; it specifies ‘consumer debt’.
But even good debt, like mortgages and student loans, need to be acquired with purpose and intention. Good debt needs to be a calculated investment, something that fits with your lifestyle, with what you want in your future. Going to University won’t automatically get you a high-paying job; your intention and follow-through with that degree, will get you that job.
There is no get-rich-quick scheme.
Unless, of course, you’ve got a trust fund, or a huge inheritance. But for the average guy or gal, making money is going to take a lot of hard work. It’s going to take a lot of intent and focus, and sometimes it’s going to feel like it’s never going to happen.
You can 100% get rich. But you probably won’t be able to do it fast. The people you hear and see getting rich fast are the exception, not the standard. And yeah, if they can do it, so can you; but putting unrealistic expectations on yourself is a recipe for disaster. Slow and steady wins the race – Tortoise Happy named their blog for exactly that reason!
And if you’re not enjoying the journey, what’s the point? If it’s just a means to an end, how you know what to do when you get to that end?
Don’t become complacent and take things at face value. Be critical. Be thoughtful. Do your research, and be honest about yourself and the things you want out of life. No two people are the same. No two people have the same priorities. My ideal life will not be ideal for anyone else but me.
As much as I want the North American House Hippo to be real, it’s just a red herring at the end of the day.